After a year of planning and a lengthy permitting process, the new wing of Steady Eddy’s will be opening on Youth Day, accidentally. Mel and Carla Wroten didn’t mean for it to line up so fortuitously, but Steady Eddy’s roastery will be opening its doors for a sneak preview on the morning of Saturday, April 27, just in time for the Youth Day Parade. They will be selling hot and iced coffee to parade watchers from their doorstep at the new Steady Eddy’s Coffee Roasting House at 106 Main St.
Mel and Carla’s plan to expand their downtown business began percolating last March. While the downtown cafe served up coffee and community, they were hustling to fulfil all of their wholesale clients’ orders. Steady Eddy’s provides coffee to local businesses like Preserve, Buckhorn Catering and Lester Farms.
When they were working out of Steady Eddy’s exclusively, Mel was preparing wholesale orders on two “baby” machines, as Carla puts it. Each could only process two and a half pounds of coffee at a time. Completing a wholesale order would mean Mel arriving at the cafe at 5 a.m. every morning to open, working through the day, then returning to churn through the roasting process in the evening.
As a father of three young children, this schedule wasn’t ideal. It also wasn’t allowing them to expand their wholesale business.
The solution to the problem came in the form of a much larger industrial roaster, purchased from a friend of Carla’s. The day after Coffeefest, Carla and Mel drove up to Humboldt to check it out. While the “baby” roasters could only process 2 pounds every 20 minutes,this machine could get through 30 pounds in the same amount of time.
The roaster works a little like an industrial-grade popcorn machine. The raw green coffee beans, purchased from an importer out of Oakland and sourced from around the world, are measured and poured into the large funnel at the top of the roaster. They fall into a chamber where they are tumbled and heated to the exact right temperature until they crack. The now brown coffee beans pour out into a pot. There the beans cool while churning over a fan.
All the smoke that the cracking process produces is pulled off into a tall, yellow afterburner. This device runs so hot (over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit) that it burns off the smoke. This prevents the coffee smoke from becoming a health hazard, which Carla appreciates as someone who does environmental work.
Once they had the equipment, they needed the space. When the building next to the Pizza Factory opened, they jumped.
“This town is small, and everyone knows when a beautiful space is open,” Carla says. But the first time they approached the landlord as a possible tenant, they were denied outright. Knowing in her gut that this was the place they wanted, Carla emailed the landlord again, after conducting some quick research.
She learned that the landlord, who grew up in Winters, currently lives in Humboldt. Carla reached out to him as a Humboldt State graduate with a vision for Winters’ future.
The landlord was convinced. Steady Eddy’s Coffee Roasting Room had a home.
The roaster will take up a large chunk of the floor space. Once the burlap coffee bean sacks that are currently covering the store windows come down, passersby will be able to watch Mel at work as he measures and monitors the roasting process.
Roughly half of the floor space in Steady Eddy’s Coffee Roasting Room will be dedicated to retail. Some of the products will be Steady Eddy’s branded merchandise, including mugs, aprons and cold brew coffee kits. Along with these items will be products from local artisans and business people, including Pure Honey products from Doneice Trotter; jams, olive oils and vinegars from Ciarlo Fruit and Nut and ceramic art by Rebecca Bresnick.
“Anything related to Winters, it belongs here,” Carla says.
There will also be a space for partnerships with local non-profits. Carla is planning on working with organizations that they feel support the community to sell bags of coffee beans. The Winters Education Foundation and the Vacaville History Museum are already lined up to participate.
In the future, Carla and Mel are planning to expand out into the small courtyard between their building and the brick wall of the Pizza Factory. There is a lot of work that needs to be done before that can happen (like repaving and leveling the concrete), but the pair are optimistic. Carla is basing her vision for the courtyard on the tea gardens she visited while traveling in England with her godmother as a teenager.
“This is the beginning stages of the entire dream,” Carla says.]]>